Culture Secretary: Theatre performances without social distancing some way off

David Hare play about coronavirus experience starring Ralph Fiennes to open this month

Government’s plan to reopen theatres was last month delayed until at least 15 August

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 11 August 2020 09:10

David Hare’s experiences with the coronavirus will be brought to the stage this autumn in a new play starring Ralph Fiennes.

The playwright, who is best known for shows including Pravda and Racing Demon, will premiere his new show, Beat the Devil, at London’s Bridge Theatre from 27 August to 31 October.

The play addresses Hare’s personal experience of contracting the virus on the same day that the UK went into lockdown, as well as his anger at the government’s response to the crisis.

Described as “a Covid monologue”, Fiennes plays Hare as he battles with “the delirium of his illness, which mix with fear, dream, honest medicine and dishonest politics to create a monologue of furious urgency and power”.

Hare, 73, has previously said that the government’s handling of the crisis was worse than that of Iraq or the Suez crisis, saying: “To watch a weasel-worded parade of ministers shirking responsibility for their failures and confecting non-apologies to the dead and dying has seen British public life sink as low as I can remember in my entire lifetime.”

The Bridge Theatre plans to reopen in September with socially distanced audiences but is waiting for word from the government that live performance can go ahead.

On 31 July, the return of indoor theatre performances was delayed until at least 15 August.

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